Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes + Q&A

Queen of Hearts
By Colleen Oakes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

When it comes to finding an Alice in Wonderland inspired title, there is  without a doubt a plethora of them. Even so, it's not often you come across an inspired retelling of Lewis Carroll's masterpiece that is quite like Colleen Oakes' Queen of Hearts.

"Cheshire stared at her, his eyes darkening with anger, though the wide smile on his face betrayed nothing."

Told in the point of view of Dinah, the Princess who will be Queen, Colleen Oakes gives readers a fresh new look into the Wonderland universe. I've always felt that Wonderland retellings felt all too similar to one another, kind of blending in together into a giant mess, however Colleen Oakes' Wonderland is far more unique while also being slightly resembling to what we've come to know from Lewis Carroll. Furthermore, Queen of Hearts doesn't only introduce Dinah, but also includes appearances from everyone's favorites - the Hatter, the White Rabbit, Cheshire, and so much more. It was quite interesting to see how Colleen incorporated each character into Dinah's tale, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what book two has in store!

"Time seemed to stop as Dinah stood paralyzed in the darkness. The sword in her hand lowered slowly."

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes is not your average Wonderland retelling. It's exceptionally compelling, well written, and addicting! I guarantee you won't know what to expect in Colleen's latest. Forget all you knew about Alice in Wonderland and be prepared for an entirely refreshing adventure!

4.5 / 5 Cupcakes


Q&A with Colleen Oakes, author of Queen of Hearts

Tell us about Queen of Hearts:

Colleen: Queen of Hearts is the backstory of the infamous villain from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The three part series is the story of Dinah, princess of Wonderland and tracks her transition from spoiled daughter of the King to the angry Queen we know and love.

What inspired you to write this interesting Alice in Wonderland re-telling from the perspective of the future Queen of Hearts?

Colleen: I was driving in my car and saw a poster for an Alice in Wonderland ballet, and it featured the Queen. I thought – why is that Queen so angry? Then I began thinking about what would cause that to happen, and my only thought was: Love. Of course. Only love can create that kind of rage. As soon as I had the idea, I thought “I’m going to write that story.”

Did you experience any difficulty when incorporating fan-favorites like the Knave, Hatter, etc?

Colleen: When I started writing the book, I decided that I could not handle writing talking animals, and so I took their attributes and turned them into their human counterparts: Cheshire became the shifty, clever advisor of the King. The White Rabbit became her kindly guardian who is very concerned with how late Dinah always is, The Mad Hatter her talented and deranged brother, and the Caterpillar…well, for that you have to wait for Book Two.

How important was it for readers to associate (or relate) with Dinah as the young princess?

Colleen: While I love YA, I am tired of seeing tales of the perfect “chosen one”. I wanted a heroine – and a villain – who were both relatable and flawed. We are going to see Dinah do some very bad things and pay the consequences for that, something that I think readers will understand. Sometimes doing bad things can feel very good.

What can readers expect to see from the series in the nearby future?

Colleen: This year will see the release of the first book in the series, Queen of Hearts. The second book in the series will be coming January 2017, I believe.

Your Queen of Hearts big or small screen dream cast?

Colleen: We will see who Universal Pictures picks, but my dream cast would be Mae Whitman as Dinah, Aaron Tvevit as Wardley, Kevin Costner as the Spade and Tom Hiddleston as Cheshire.


I would like to extend a big thank you to Colleen Oakes for agreeing to do the Q&A and the HCCFrenzy team over at HarperCollins Canada for connecting us!

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.


  1. You're right.
    There are too many Alice in Wonderland inspired books out there, but this sounds really different considering the fact that it's about the villain and not so much about Alice. Is there even an Alice? I'm guessing probably not because the Queen of Hearts is still so young and Alice doesn't appear until she's already been queen for a while, right?

    Either way, great review and interview, Wendy!

  2. Enjoyed your review and Q/A. Happy Tuesday and Book Birthday!

  3. First time I'm hearing about Queen of Hearts. Thanks for the introduction! :)

  4. Katherine Pinacho3 May 2016 at 10:34

    Excellent review!
    Looking forward to buying this!

  5. Wonderful review & Q+A! Tom Hiddleston as Cheshire would be amazing!

  6. There are so many re-tellings that I honestly got a bit tired of them. I've been eyeing Queen of Hearts, especially since I've been seeing more raving reviews roll in, so I think I'd give it try!